The Best of Times, The Worst of Times


Another year and another decade have passed, another year and another decade we won’t get back.   Despite all the indicators to the contrary (I highly suggest reading Stephen Pinker’s Enlightenment Now) it certainly feels like we’re living in particularly turbulent times. Brexit, Trump, ISIS, Facebook…the 2010’s have repeatedly been called the Decade of Crisis.   It was also a decade that took us into science fiction more than one would think.  Consider arriving in January 1, 2010, and telling a person on the street:

  • My iPhone takes better studio portraits than professional studios
  • I was hungry but my Uber driver had snacks
  • Did you see the drone firework display in Shanghai?
  • According to my watch/Fitbit, I took 8,912 steps today
  • I’ll pay for that by tapping my phone
  • It’s included in the magazine subscriptions on my iPad
  • Let’s binge watching Season 22 of the Simpsons
  • I feel like instantly listening to every hit from 1992
  • I swiped right and now we’re married
  • Hey Siri, remind me to take out the trash at 1pm?
  • It’s one of the most popular bag designs on Kickstarter
  • I’ll get someone to design that on Fiver or Upwork
  • I love that influencer’s selfies on insta
  • Hey Google, is it a catastrophic fire day in Adelaide?
  • It’s fake news
  • We’ve got a Whatsapp group, but I’ll Snap you
  • Elon Musk reckons his re-usable rockets, Cybertruck and Hyperloop will help us colonize Mars
  • Did you see a doctor went to jail for gene editing babies?
  • I’ll have a Beyond Burger please, and a pizza with plant-based pepperoni

What the hell are you talking about?   And this is just a fraction of the global fizzle-pop martini that has shaken and stirred over the past ten years. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”  Charles Dickens wrote that timeless line in 1859.  There is always political, cultural and economic turbulence, although this decade frequent environmental disasters joined the party.   Unprecedented droughts (South Africa, Argentina, Australia), floods (India, Louisiana, Oklahoma), hurricanes (Bahamas, Puerto Rico), storms (Superstorm Sandy, Tropical Irene), heatwaves, wildfires (Australia, California, BC), the melting Arctic, city-sized icebergs breaking off Greenland and the Antarctic Peninsula.  And facing this global challenge are a bunch of world leaders not too removed from comic book villains.

There have always been high season and low season, but overtourism – best represented by  poster children like Barcelona and the Louvre, Venice and Dubrovnik –  proved canaries in the coalmine for the onslaught of travellers benefitting from cheap airfare, growing middle classes and an obsession with social media validation.  I’ve had to question my own role in all of this, as this decade saw me transform from a freelance writer and television host into the bestselling author of a half dozen “bucket list” themed books.  Not to mention a husband and father. What hasn’t changed is the core of what set me off fifteen years ago:  an insatiable curiosity, and the desire to share what I discover with others in the hope that it inspires them as much as it has inspired me.

My latest book is about the joys, trials, hilarity and wonders when travelling with kids across Australia.  Gone are the days of intense budget travel, and I’m a little long in the tooth to be sharing dorms in hostels (plus kids under six are not the best bunk mates).    But they do demand and instigate new adventures all the time.   We’re kicking off 2020 with a true bucket list road trip adventure, visiting three incredible BC ski resorts to learn – as a family – how to embrace the Canadian winter, and make it down a mountain on skis.    Having warmed up for a recent Vancouver Sun story about Whistler, we’re kicking off on the powder of RED Mountain, revving up for Revelstoke, and with any luck we will get a thumbs up from Olympic legend Nancy Greene on the slopes of Sun Peaks.  As usual, I hope to inspire other families to do the same, and at the very least, avoid visits to the hospital (my ER visit in Whistler to saw off my wedding ring was enough, thanks).

Whatever happens in the year and decade to come, may the weather prove fair and your health fairer.  May our challenges be met and our smiles frequent. I hope we continue to appreciate the incredible benefits of our privilege, and empathize with those who want nothing more than to share a piece of it.   Every year that passes is a year we won’t get back. Regardless of what we might be telling ourselves in 2030, let’s continue to make it count.


Great Canadian Bucket List